I was in my friend’s office just a few days after my father-in-law’s cancer diagnosis telling her how fine I was when she lovingly suggested that I need to lay it down.
Clearly she miscalculated me and I was quick to tell her so. I go the places God takes me. I comfortably let Him see my best and worst. I share with the people I feel close to. I was wisely guarding my heart.
Shortly thereafter one of my pastors called me out on the same. “You are a giver so you struggle to receive. But, there will come a time when you need to let people in, and you will know when that time is.”
Pretty faith gets messy in the muddy moments of life and there is a fine line between prideful self-protection and discerned quiet. Admittedly, I error toward the first. While I’m quick to rush in and hang out in the valley with others, assuring them they’re good and accepted and loved in the midst of what they feel to be their own vocal, emotional, or spiritual unflattery, I’m much less forgiving of myself. I have tendency to hide my wounds to meet imagined expectations. Emotionally throw me in the wrong place and I might just build a fence.
So when my friend sent me these verses-
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-9
Verse 5 hit me square between the eyes.
People build us up. That is what makes the church special. I know that and I love that. I want to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading and gentle in response. I want to be gracious, appreciate people’s love, and represent the name of “Christ follower” well. But this requires living a type of bravery and intentional authenticity outside my natural inclination.
I’ve seen the Divine in shared stories. When we connect on a level that is real, our wounds are nursed AND we help release others from prisons of their own. Our bleeding heart gives them permission to reveal theirs and, in the yuck, God works to bring forth meaningful good. Jen Hatmaker writes, “Give Sanctuary Jesus something to stick to in the real world and the Bible will feel true once more.”
I aim for this.
When I claimed “brave” as my first word of the year in 2015, I said I only did so because the Lord placed it upon me. This year there will be no word. Rather 2016 will be themed with a verse. I’ll do my best to exude the patient disposition it infers and find strength in the remembrance that God is at my side.
Philippians 4:5 –a verse I’ve read a million times but hitting me anew- is my first verse of the year. KraftyKash made me a beautiful necklace as wearable reminder.
Friends, with respect for myself, family, and each other, I’m going to try to dig deeper and reflect real. To lay some self-sufficiency down and let more in. And, maybe in healthy response to the seconds that shine and moments of muck the Word for all of us will stir new.
Did you choose a word or Bible verse of the year?
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